The essence of Simchat Torah is the completion of the reading of the Torah scroll, and the joy and celebration that naturally ensues from the annual culmination of the Torah-reading cycle. Because of the traditional means of celebration, women’s participation has historically been more passive rather than active, which leaves synagogues with the challenge of how to include women in the full observance of the day.
Simchat Torah presents the perfect opportunity to highlight programming that addresses needs and introduces new norms, all within the parameters of Orthodoxy. Building authentic moments is the goal, with the ability to inspire individuals.
Several years ago, a colleague and I were discussing this exact issue: how to create meaningful opportunities for women on Simchat Torah. She shared with me that in her synagogue, when the men were being called to the Torah, the women gathered together to learn Torah. It struck me that to celebrate the Torah through study is a true fulfillment of the essence of Simchat Torah.
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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.